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The Green Chamber
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Monday January 8, 2018 in Books

The Green Chamber

By Martine Desjardins
Translated by Fred A. Reed & David Homel

Set between 1913 and 1963 in one of Montreal’s upper-middle-class, suburban neighbourhoods, Martine Desjardins’s The Green Chamber is a riveting, fast-paced, highly atmospheric novel that chronicles the decline of a wealthy French-Canadian family over the course of three generations.

Every house has its secrets, but none hides them better than the august house of the Delorme family. With its sixty-seven locks, brass-grilled counters, and impenetrable underground vault – where lie the mummified remains of a woman clutching a brick between her teeth – the Delorme residence may be apprehended as The Green Chamber’s central persona. A private bank of a sort, it has always held its lot of ill-acquired gains, hidden vices, cruel rituals, and illicit substances away from prying eyes. Louis-Dollard Delorme, his miserly wife Estelle, and his three spinster sisters revere money so much that they have converted their residence’s “green chamber” into a place of worship and have elevated domestic penny-pinching to an art form. As for the family’s heir, Vincent, they intend for him to make a highly profitable marriage – a reasonable prospect, until the day when the house opens its doors to Penny Sterling, a young woman whose means equal only her curiosity.

Desjardins’s humorous gothic saga – with its gallery of eccentric characters who play the races in secret and guzzle vanilla extract – reveals and revels in the fate of family fortunes: the first generation makes the money, the second generation lives on the interest, and the third blows it.

The novel’s plot and themes arise, larger than life, from the history of the author’s own family, and from that of her suburban hometown, Mount Royal, whose founding is closely linked to the development of Canada’s national railroad and early industry. The Green Chamber exposes the birth of capitalistic religiosity and sheds light on our economic present: personal finances, once based on a nest-egg savings system, have become a credit-based and debt-ridden travesty.

ISBN 13: 9781772011968 | ISBN 10:
5.5 W x 8.5 H inches | 208 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Rights: World
Frontlist | Fiction
Paperback Edition


“Pop the champagne! In the name of ‘the Dollar, the Cent, and the Holy Economy,’ The Green Chamber is one fantastic book. Archly written, it’s part mystery, part satire about stingy wealth, and loaded with laughs. Martine Desjardins has created a comic novel worthy of the word ‘great.’”
—M.A.C. Farrant, author of The Days and The World Afloat


Finalist for the 2018 Prix des Horizons imaginaires (for imaginative literature from Quebec)

Winner of the 2017 Prix Jacques-Brossard (for science fiction and fantasy from Quebec)

Long-listed for the 2017 Prix des libraires du Québec

About the Contributors

Martine Desjardins

Martine Desjardins was born in the Town of Mount Royal, Quebec, in 1957. She worked as an assistant editor-in-chief at ELLE Québec magazine for four years before leaving to devote herself to writing. Her first novel, Le cercle de Clara, was published by Leméac in 1997, and was nominated for both the Prix littéraires du Québec and the Grand prix des lectrices de ELLE Québec in 1998. Desjardins currently lives in the Town of Mount Royal. In her free time, she paints miniature models of ruins overgrown with vegetation.

Fred A. Reed

International journalist and award-winning literary translator Fred A. Reed is also a respected specialist on politics and religion in the Middle East. Reed is a three-time winner of the Governor General’s Award for translation.

David Homel

Award-winning author and literary translator David Homel also works as a journalist, editor and screenwriter.

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